Documentary & Biography TV Shows

About Documentary & Biography

The purpose of a TV documentary, as is probably obvious from the genre's name, is to document something. Documentaries are non-fiction programs that examine a subject closely, and the intent of the program may be broadly educational, or it may attempt to make a cultural or political point. Although the earliest TV programming was focused on entertainment, documentaries quickly became a significant part of TV programming overall, and now some of the most popular TV networks concentrate almost exclusively on non-fiction programs.

Documentary TV programming comes in a number of forms. Stand-alone documentary films explore one subject in depth in a single film or in a short series of episodes, while documentary series often look at a different subject in each episode, with no direct connection between the subjects from episode to episode. News-magazine-style shows may group multiple segments within each episode; the segments typically focus on unrelated subjects. Other types of documentary series-crime and paranormal series are currently popular-explore a different specific subject in each episode, but all of the subjects conform to the overall theme of the series.

Biography is a sub-genre of documentary programming that tells the story of a particular individual. Historical figures, political leaders, entertainers, sports figures and other celebrities are, of course, the most popular subjects of TV biographies, and biographical documentaries are consistently popular with TV viewers. In recent years, the series "Biography" was one of the most successful productions on the A&E cable network-so much so that the network spun the series off into its own channel, The Biography Channel, which debuted in 1999.

Much of the programming that fits into the reality TV genre could also fit fairly comfortably into the documentary genre. Reality series that follow characters as they engage in specific occupations or live in unusual contexts educate viewers about those occupations and lifestyles at the same time that they entertain-although the main goal of these series is entertainment, and factual accuracy may suffer as a consequence.

About This Genre
The Grand Tour
The Grand Tour
30 For 30
30 For 30
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Hunters
Ghost Adventures
Ghost Adventures
The New Edition Story
The New Edition Story
Intervention
Intervention
Forensic Files
Forensic Files
Polyamory: Married and Dating
Polyamory: Married and Dating
The Defiant Ones
The Defiant Ones
Taboo
Taboo
Autopsy: The Last Hours Of...
Autopsy: The Last Hours Of...
Active Shooter: America Under Fire
Active Shooter: America Under Fire
90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days
90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days
American Masters
American Masters
A Football Life
A Football Life
American Experience
American Experience
Xploration Earth 2050
Xploration Earth 2050
Harley and the Davidsons
Harley and the Davidsons
Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography
Elizabeth Smart: Autobiography
Nature
Nature
The Skinny Dip
Women Behind Bars
Alien Encounters
Finding Escobar's Millions
Diesel Brothers
Unexpected
Dateline
Animal Fight Night
America The Story of Us
The Bureau
Haunted History
Louis Theroux
My Big Fat American Gypsy Wedding
Monsters and Mysteries in America
Snapped
How It's Made
48 Hours Mystery
Unsolved Mysteries
Mankind: The Story of All of Us
Vice
Secrets of the Dead
Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team
Walking with Dinosaurs
Mayday
Kindergarten
River Monsters
Released
My 600-lb Life
Untold Stories of the E.R.
Austin City Limits
Beyond Scared Straight
Nellyville
Love Kills
Lockup
I Survived
Surviving Evil
The Most Extreme
The Weight of the Nation
Genius by Stephen Hawking
The Staircase
World's Most Dangerous Roads
Ride with Norman Reedus
Wicked Tuna: Outer Banks
Garage Rehab
Shark Week
Unwrapped
Ice Road Truckers
Planet Earth
Killer Kids
Horror at the Cecil Hotel
Life Below Zero
Caught on Camera
Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet
Black Love
Locked Up Abroad
Ancient Aliens
Good Eats
Destination Truth
Kindred Spirits
Living with Funny
Secret Lives of the Super Rich
1000 Ways to Die
Frontline
People Magazine Investigates
Modern Marvels
My Crazy Ex
What on Earth?
Unusual Suspects
Building Alaska
Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations
In Search of Aliens
Bering Sea Gold
Million Dollar American Princesses
I Shouldn't Be Alive
Great Performances
One Born Every Minute
Dirty Jobs
Total Bellas
The War: A Ken Burns Film
Last Chance U